History fans have certainly come to the right place here ! During the Renaissance, the Kings and Queens of France took refuge in the famous Châteaux de la Loire, most of them are in Loir-et-Cher. The history of France has left its mark on the Val de Loire from medieval times to the great kings.
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Châteaux de la Loire : Blois
Let’s start with Blois, a town built in the shape of an amphitheatre on the hillsides overlooking the Loire.
The Château Royal de Blois is a remarkable illustration of the evolution of French architecture, with its 4 architectural styles : the remains of the original castle in the form of the Estates General hall ; the Louis XII wing (brick and stone) ; the François I wing where the staircase and the ‘façade des loges’ represent the height of Italian Renaissance style ; the classical-style Gaston d’Orléans wing designed by the architect François Mansart. Every evening from April to September a son-et-lumière show takes place in the main courtyard : « Ainsi Blois vous est conté » relives great moments from the history of the château.
Also in Blois, don’t miss the old town (Church of Saint Nicolas, Couvent des Jacobins (convent), Maison des Acrobates), Maison de la Magie Robert Houdin which provides an introduction to the art of magic with regular shows and workshops for children and grown-ups, and the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle (Natural History Museum). Climb the ‘escaliers Denis Papin’ steps to the upper town to admire the Hôtel de Ville (town hall), the Jardins de l’Evêché (gardens) and the Cathédrale Saint Louis.
Before leaving Blois, stop off at the Maison de la BD, a temporary exhibition space devoted to comic books (BD Boum festival every year in November), and the Fondation du Doute, a contemporary art centre created with the aim of demystifying art to bring it into line with reality.
Finally, if there is one event not to be missed, it’s the Rendez-Vous de l’Histoire. Every year for 5 days in October, researchers, teachers and the general public come together for a series of debates and discussions around a given theme.
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And lots more châteaux to discover !
There are many other châteaux to visit : Château de Villesavin with its elegant courtyard running the length of the moat and its Musée du Mariage, Château de Beauregard at Cellettes, famous for its Galerie des Illustres, unique in Europe, containing 327 portraits from three centuries of French history (there is a mini-gallery for children in the Salle Louis XIV of the château where they can delve into history by recreating the costumes of 50 portraits), Château de Troussay, a small Renaissance château which is still lived in, Château de Talcy where the poet Ronsard found inspiration for his poem : « Mignonne, allons voir si la rose….. »
If you have a sweet tooth, then don’t forget to go to try some delicious Palets Solognots at the Biscuiterie de Chambord in Maslives or hand-made chocolate by Max Vauché at Bracieux.
Explore the Cher Valley and the River Loire in Loir-et-Cher with Gîtes de France, Loir-et-Cher"